January 13, 2015: A Close Moment

~by Louis Templeman

January 13, 2015: A Close Moment


This morning I was sitting in my chair quietly thinking about the Wednesday men’s group I was going to in a few hours where the question that starts the after lunch discussion is, “Did you have a close moment this week?” This is a Cursillo grouping and if done correctly is rather formulated. We are not formal types and the only clue that we are a Cursillo grouping is this particular question – and I might say is my favorite question from the instructions that tell us how to carry on properly. I knew that question would come up and I wanted a response that would benefit me as well as the other four that meet with me.

I joined this group five years ago and my presence made it three men. Bill was sick and distracted with other interests and then it was only Father Tom and I for two years. Tom had a medical issue for six months and could not drive so for that time I would pick him up and carry us to St. Mark’s Episcopal where we joined other seniors for a weekly lunch and grouped afterwards. Many, many times I would sit with Tom afterwards in the library where we would talk – well, I would talk, sometimes confessional level personal issues and the precious Father, my very good friend, would fall asleep on me. Tom has sleep apnea. He has told me he has more than once fallen asleep at a red light. So the grouping for the two of us was often like this: Father Tom, I am having personal problems. Life is hard; I have bills I can’t meet; sometimes I feel insignificant and like nobody wants to talk to me . . . “. And Tom would say, “Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.”

So, that and my status as a newlywed led me to bow out, for a year or so. But now there are five and it is much better. A fellow named Joe is with us. He tells me he spent 30 years in a Florida prison. He seems happy enough but he has lifetime parole and that will sting eventually. Nevertheless, it will always be an improvement over life in lock-up

Well, the discussion got side tracked to cover the Civil War and the various generals and major players. Eventually, I asked if I could share my close moment. This got their attention. These are smart men and they have wide interests and are well read but they were glad to return to the point of the meeting, which is about living the Christian life with joy, consistency and service.

So I said something like: “I think I had a special time with the LORD, but you can judge for yourself. You may decide I was really with someone else, so let me know. To preface it I need to say I was looking over some of my notes and journals of my spiritual, inner adventures. There was a period in my past when I was more satisfied with my prayer life and my life of faith in general. I was reading some of the journals, jottings, poems and even notations in books I have and began to wonder who in the world wrote that stuff. I liked that guy. By comparison I feel I am weighted down in lethargy or sloth. I was slipping over the edge into self-condemnation. As I sat in my chair this morning I felt a bit guilty and I got quiet. I tend to let my imagination go as if I am offering an erased chalk board for the Holy Spirit to write on, or do squiggles if he wills, I let go and try not to talk to myself.

Clarity came to me. If I were to put it into words, which it wasn’t really, I would say it was “Don’t be so hard on yourself. You are you right now. You had a different life then with different stressors, different expectations, and a new set of duties and relationships. I’m the Savior. You can’t save yourself or even be that good all by yourself. It is on me. I’ll keep you. I am still with you. In the past five years you have , watched your father die, watch your wife die, had one relative try to defraud you of a sizable portion of money, and more besides. You have also bought a home, married the love of your life and have recently received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. Take it easy. Trust. We’ll get through it all together.”

I know I am making God sound like a wind bag but it wasn’t like that. I need all those words to express the peace and relief I felt at that moment of silence in my morning quiet time.

So, I offered that to the men and did not know what to expect, but I was gently surprised by their positive reaction. The consensus was the guilt that helps you correct your bad behavior is good but a lot of guilt is inappropriate and not at all a needful part of a healthy mind. Thomas Keating knows this feeling and has this to say:

Take and accept yourself just as you are, where you are. Let God work with your faults and limitations. Just recognize them and be with them, without trying to correct them directly. As you watch them, feel them, and accept them, their force and exaggeration will gradually diminish. Keep moving to the center of your being where divine love is and be present to and welcome whatever bodily feeling or emotion that is happening. The present moment contains all we need to be happy.

And, since my favorite divine promise is, “I’ll never leave you,” my present moments do have all I need to be happy.

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Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D. Louis has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is fighting the good fight. Much of what he writes these days he is sharing his journey with us. Please keep Louis and his wife Joy in your prayers.

CLICK HERE to visit Louis’ Catholic Journeyman Archive

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